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Vote on Common Core education standards delayed in Manchester

New Hampshire Union Leader

September 16. 2013 10:36PM

MANCHESTER — A vote on adopting Common Core standards in city schools was delayed until next week after a presentation to the Curriculum and Instruction Committee led to a contentious round of questions and answers.

Committee Chair Sarah Ambrogi ended the dispute by recessing the meeting until next Tuesday, when the committee was originally scheduled to meet.

Committee member Arthur Beaudry was angered from the start Monday because he said answers to questions from a meeting last month were not made public on the district website until earlier in the day.

That, Beaudry said, did not give enough time for people with concerns about the standards to review the information before the committee met for Monday's presentation by Assistant Superintendent David Ryan and a scheduled vote.

Common Core opponents claim it is a federally imposed system that relies on unsound educational principles and will undermine local control.

Beaudry repeatedly asked for the answers posted online earlier in the day to be reviewed during the meeting, frustrating Ambrogi and Mayor Ted Gatsas several times.

"We sit here representing the public and they should have time to review the answers," Beaudry said after the meeting. "In my opinion, I got more questions than answers tonight."

Ryan explained how Common Core is designed to change the way students learn and make them better prepared for the future, whether that includes college or going straight into the workforce. Ryan emphasized that teachers can develop lesson plans from the Common Core foundation.

"Nowhere does it say state standards are a curriculum," Ryan said. School officials have said $21 million in federal funding is at stake if the district doesn't adopt Common Core. The math and English language arts/literacy curriculum is intended for use across the country. Ambrogi said the committee will pick up where it left off next week, finishing the Q and A and allowing for another round of public input before voting next Tuesday.

"It will give everyone an opportunity to read the answers to the questions that were posted on the website and I hope that we'll be able to move forward and take action as was called for on our agenda," Ambrogi said. Committee member Erika Connors said after the meeting that she had hoped Ryan's presentation would provide a better understanding of what Common Core is and what it would mean to the district if it is approved.

"It's standards that we need to follow but it's not curriculum, and I think that's biggest confusion that people have," she said.

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